Monday, December 8, 2014

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

It's been generations since Saypur overthrew the powers that ruled the Continent. Divinities, six in all, that ruled by force and magic, all of them conquered and killed by a people who were once their slaves. And now the Saypuri rule instead, forcibly outlawing any and all reference to those gods and their history. When a Saypuri historian focused on studying the history of Bulikov and those deities is murdered, Shara Komayd is sent to investigate. One of Saypur's most experienced agents and a direct descendant of the Kaj - the man who famously defeated Bulikov - Shara arrives undercover and immediately discovers multiple motives for the murder. As her investigation proceeds, she learns that the man was digging into more than just the history of the Continent, and while it's certain that some of the Divinity's followers are still in existence, Shara begins to wonder if some of the gods themselves may have survived the war. 

Sooooo, City of Stairs starts off really freaking confusing! It was jarring diving into a story that starts midstream. Rather than easing the reader into what is truly a unique and complicated world, Robert Jackson Bennett plops us down in the midst of a trial with precedent based on a history we've not yet been exposed to. And then there's a murder.

Actually, with the exception of this being unexpected based on what I know about this author's work, I do prefer being dropped in the middle. It's the only way to avoid the ever-dreaded info dump. And yes, this is a very complicated world but - to be fair - the author does very quickly begin working in details that help us understand what's going on around us.

At it's heart, this is a murder mystery. Shara is a spy - and one with a great backstory! The book starts a bit slower but gradually the pacing picks up and the plot becomes more and more intriguing.

City of Stairs is a fantastic cross-genre read, one I'd definitely recommend to anyone in the mood for a cerebral plot and fabulously rich world building.

Per Blogging for Books requirements: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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